Books at heart of Coterie for 40 years

Published 12:03 am Friday, April 1, 2011

One could say that books have always been at the heart of the Andalusia Coterie Club.

So it’s no wonder that, as the club marks its 40th annual Storybook Festival, little has changed since its establishment in 1948.

One of its firsts fundraisers was the 1952 “Miss Anda-lusia” beauty pageant, where proceeds were earmarked to help establish the first special class for handicapped children at East Three Notch School.

In 1957, the pageant’s proceeds were funneled into another worthy cause – the Andalusia Public Library.

According to a written history of the club, a children’s corner was planned for the new library that was to relocated to the old Post Office building on South Three Notch Street. “That year, the club earned the highest profit in the history of the “Miss Andalusia” contest in the 1966 revue,” said Heather Owen, a current Coterie member. “Consequently, at the end of the 1965-1966 club year, a $1,000 donation was presented to the Andalusia Public Library on behalf of the Coterie Club.”

Fast-forward through the years and it’s easy to see how the club’s contributions have helped the community grow, she said.

“The Storybook Festival, which began in 1971, was renewal of one of the most popular features of the City of Andalusia’s summer recreation program,” Owen said. “Our minutes indicate that Patricia Seymore and Merilyn Jones, who were former beloved Andalusia High School teachers and directors of summer recreations, whose ingenuity, originality and dedication to young people sparked these ‘festivals in the park,’ can be accredited with the event’s origin.”

Owen said through the creative efforts of Margo Russell, the 1970-71 club president, as well as the talents and desires of club members, worked to make the festival “an event to be remembered.”

“Now, what they started has launched into what has become one of the most anticipated and favorite annual events in the area,” she said. “Each year, the club expands its efforts and preparation in presenting a most enjoyable Storybook Festival with costumed characters taking on form before life-like sets. It takes an extensive amount of year-round hard work on the part of individuals and committees to make this festival a success.”

This year’s Storybook Festival will regale goers with three Dr. Seuss tales – “The Cat in the Hat;” “Green Eggs and Ham” and “I Am Not Going to Get Up Today.”

It will be held in Robinson Park Saturday. Activities begin at 9 a.m., plays at 10 a.m. Admission is $4.